What's sold you on the idea?
This may be long.
Watchmaking is a hidebound industry, to no one's surprise. It's also one of the most heinously disintegrated; the common trope is that assembly lines were invented by Henry Ford and the whole world changed but the reality of the situation is that assembly lines were invented by the Waltham Watch Company in 1854. Waltham was the first company in the world to use interchangeable parts, other than Eli Whitney in 1790 other than the Carthaginians in the first Punic War thus does the dream die. Either way, a guy named Florentine Oriosto Jones, who had been working at the E. Howard watch company (which made better watches than Waltham, but weren't the first) decided he could teach those primitive hut-dwellers the Swiss the "American" way of making watches and they were so disgusted they refused to let him set up shop anywhere that spoke French which is why to this day the International Watch Company (IWC) is in Schaffhausen, where they speak German. And thus did the Swiss eventually learn to not produce garbage, although their shit still didn't compare with American brands, but America fought two world wars and converted from making mechanical timepieces into making bomb timers and ship's chronographs and bombsights and gunnery computers while the Swiss kept right on Swissing. So when the war ended and luxury items were in short supply, if you wanted to buy a decent watch it was Swiss by default because all the American companies were too busy making shit for the military. This is why redneck dentists ride Harley Davidson instead of Indian, by the way - the Army bought every motorcycle Indian made but rejected Harleys as pieces of shit so if you wanted a motorcycle, Harley was your only choice until eventually Indian was forgotten for how awesome they were.
Anyway. The Swiss came to dominate watchmaking while everyone else moved on to other things and basically stuck there. Forever. Unchanging. Cases are made this way. Plates are made this way. Pinions are made this way. Wheels are made this way. Here's an extremely soothing video of a modern, $15k watch being made:
See, if you've had a hydraulic press for making cases since 1921, you probably make your cases with a hydraulic press. And if you've been milling brass plates on a pattern mill since 1931, you probably mill your plates on a pattern mill. And you have all this stuff, and it's been in one place, and sure between 2000 and 2015 you probably built a new factory
but your charter dates to 1755 and tradition? Tradition is what you do.
So you're pretending to look at new technologies? but you're not really. And maybe you'll say you have a 3D printed component here or there? But it's largely superficial. You have rows and rows and rows of extremely high-end machines that do one thing and they do the hell out of it and I have a quote for this thing and it's $768k FOB to my nearest port city.
And let's be clear: I'm never competing with these guys. Not ever. The Swiss watch industry is safe from me. So I need to look at ways to make things that don't start with a $768k machine FOB to my nearest port city. And frankly? the type of stuff you can do with a $20k machine is a start... but it's still a $20k machine. And the stuff I see my buddies doing with $10k machines is... well, see comment to bfv.
So really, the $250 printer is a low enough expense to switch me from "thinking about doing" to "doing." And really, most any watch you find out there right now has a shitty little plastic insert between the movement and the case anyway and if you're making custom pieces to get movements into cases, "shitty little plastic" is precisely what 3D printers excel at, although as far as you can tell from Youtube the entire 3D printing industry exists because GDW charges too much for Warhammer miniatures. Sweet baby jesus there are a lot of basement-dwelling wizards out there.
But I digress.
Fundamentally, i can short-circuit a formidable amount of manufacturing by going ghetto. So I'ma go ghetto and work my way up. After all, Jacob the Jeweler went from this:
in fifteen years.
not that I want to do that but it illustrates a certain progression of intricacy